SITTING in the 5 star hotel in Dubai, Brendan Rodgers looked back over the events of last summer and the football that has taken place since then and up to the winter break kicking in, and declared himself to be reasonably satisfied.
There is no doubt that this period represented the most challenging for him as Celtic manager. The Irishman replaced Ronny Deila in May 2016 and inherited a bloated squad which had retained the league title but had lost out in a penalty shoot-out to the Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi-final.
Deila’s side had performed badly in European football and that was an area that Celtic really did have to improve on. This summer Brendan got a taste of what Ronny had suffered when he watched his side lose to a pretty poor AEK Athens side to throw away the chance of another crack at the Champions League. It didn’t help that the want away Dedryck Boyata, just returned from the World Cup where he had performed very well, refused to travel to Athens, despite Rodgers stating that he was fit to play.
And there was the internal battle with the CEO Peter Lawwell who played hardball with Hibs over the signing target John McGinn and lost out pretty badly.
“I look at how we came out of the summer and if you’d said to me we’d be top of the league with a game in hand, having won the cup and qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League with what we had available, I’d have taken that. Absolutely,” Brendan reflected yesterday in his chat with the media.
“I say that knowing we can get better — and we WILL get better.
“Our home record has been brilliant. Away from home, we’ve suffered a little and that’s something I need to look at.
“It’s the reason we are here (in Dubai), to find different solutions to one or two things away from home which haven’t happened to us in the past couple of years.
“But you have to concentrate on the positive side. The league is competitive. I’d like to think the standard we have set over the past couple of years has increased the standard of the other teams, which is absolutely brilliant for the league.
“It’s also a sign for us, as a club, that we need to keep improving and developing as well.”
Celtic’s away day form has been very poor, especially when you compare it to Rodgers’ first season at the club. However he can consider it to be unfortunate that many of the away games this season have followed on from tough European matches in midweek.
Another factor is scoring goals away from home – drawing blanks at places like St Mirren and Livingston are costly in terms of avoidable dropped points but the arrival of Oliver Burke, Timothy Weah and Vkaoun Issouf Bayo should have addressed that problem rather well.
Gutman snubs Steven Gerrard for the Hoops…See HERE.
Rodgers on Griffiths: ‘The club are dealing with it, it’s a private matter’…See HERE.
Tierney’s Hip is a real concern for Brendan Rodgers…See HERE.
Jim Craig – Jimmy McGrory was in scintillating form…See HERE.
‘Beaton wasn’t very good, he was affected by the game,’ Rodgers Latest…See HERE.
Watch a delighted Brendan Rodgers discuss his three new Celtic signings…See HERE.
Valencia? ‘Anything can happen at Celtic Park on European nights,’ Celtic Star…See HERE.